The Silicon Valley Voice

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California Public Payrolls Now Online

Thanks to California’s State Controller John Chiang, Californians (at least, computer-literate ones) can, for the first time, easily find out what public employees actually earn.

Just type into your browser. You’ll see compensation information for every position in every department of every California municipal, district, county, and state agency. What’s more, the information can be sorted by any of the clearly-labeled columns – department, job classification, salary range, total 2009 W-2 wages (what the person holding the job actually took home), pension benefits, deferred compensation, and employer contributions for pension and medical benefits.

Last August, Chiang ordered all state agencies to “clearly identify” and report elected officials’ and public employees’ compensation; not just summary information as they have in the past. Sacramento can fine agencies that fail to comply – although the current penalty, $5,000, hardly seems like a disincentive for municipal scofflaws.


First elected in 2006 (reelected in 2010) Chiang has been a busy bee ferreting out waste, abuse and downright fraud involving the public purse – to the tune of about $2.5 billion, according to the agency’s website ( The office claims to have undertaken more audits in the four years since he took office, than his predecessors did in the previous 12 years. (Informal review of press releases issued by the Controller’s office over the past 20 years seems to confirm this).

Chiang also had the good fortune to be on the job when Bells’s pecuniary shenanigans started coming to light. Illegal tax levies, misappropriated revenue, questionable loans, the now-infamous city salaries, and other fiscal sleights of hand by Bell’s sharp-dealers gave Chiang a gift to good-governance advocacy that just keeps on giving.

Chiang’s own salary? Currently $139,743 for managing California’s $100 billion budget. Or, if LA Assemblyman Gil Cedillo has his way and overturns a 2009 state pay cut, $169,743.

Either way, it’s less than the 2009 W-2 earnings of Finance Directors in San Jose ($251,295), Sunnyvale ($220,308), Los Angeles ($213,204), Santa Clara ($190,116), and Milpitas ($185,740).

Carolyn Schuk can be reached at


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